Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Jan. 21 - Feb 9, 2017
My Jamaica Photos are FOR SALE!
This was our 2nd vacation at Sandals Ochi. We first visited this Sandals Resort in 2013, and at that time we knew we would love to do it again. It took awhile, but this vacation was well worth the wait. We have been to many Sandals resorts (as you know if you've been reading my reviews over the years.) Sandals Ochi meets or exceeds other Sandals Resorts, due to attentiveness to detail, service, food and overall "welcome." We met so many returning guests this year who enjoyed telling us what they loved best about Sandals Ochi, and why they return year after year.
Sandals Ochi does not have the beauty of some other Sandals Resorts. It does not have an outstanding beach. It does not have a Cafe de Paris! But...it makes up for all of this this with superb service and attention to detail. And oh yes...The Rabbit Hole! (See my photo gallery below). Remember the speakeasies during the prohibition? Neither do I, so I figure this is as close as I'll get. You will need a password to enter, but it is all done in fun.
We were greeted by name from management and many other employees. They are exceedingly detail-oriented, a perk for being a Diamond Level guest. (Last year at Sandals Antigua there was never a mention of Diamond Level members - not even once!) At the Sandals Antigua we were treated like first-time visitors to the Sandals Resorts. Sandals chain. Overall, Antigua was a disappointment due in the most part to the room. You can read all my Sandals reviews here here.
But Sandals Ochi knows how to do everything right!! We were presented with cookies on a plate, plus a 1-lb. bag of Sandals Mountain Blend Coffee.
We really enjoyed the white-glove luncheon
for Diamond Level members which was a wonderful was
a wonderful way to meet long-time Sandals fans, compare
memories and share resort information. Thank you for hosting
this very special lunch, Ochi staff!
Photo 1 - Photo 2 - Photo 3
We booked the Club Level (formerly
concierge) which has been our comfort
zone for several years. We had the pleasure of working with two
concierges - Tenniel and Shawne. They were both very helpful and
we enjoyed them lot.
Thanks, Tenniel and Shawne!
Our room was on the top floor of the
Riviera Beachfront Tower, overlooking the beach. This
is the same category we booked in 2013, and we still think it
offers the best patio views in the resort. Although not very
large, these patios are walled in so there was no chance that
our privacy might be invaded by neighbors. While we knew we had
neighbors, we never saw nor heard anything on either side.
During earlier research on this building, I read complaints
about noise. Maybe it was because we were on the top floor and
did not the noise didn't drift that far, but we were never
Room photo gallery Photos rotate every 5 seconds.Click any photo to stop the rotation..
Bar Room Service: We requested a bottle of Bailey's Original Irish Creme, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, and Champagne - all of which were delivered to our room or or on an "as needed" basis. It was perfect. Thanks, Ochi! Some of our requests even showed up in our morning coffee!
Returning Guest Night: Tuesdays.
Because of our vacation schedule we could have attended two
Returning Guest dinners. However, as much as we enjoyed meeting
other guests and chatting with some of the staff members, we
decided once was sufficient since the order of events,
announcements, awards, etc. is pretty much the same, week to
week. And did I mention L-O-N-G? We were presented with a bottle
of Appleton Special Rum and were on the list of Diamond members.
Guest 1 - Returning
Guest 2 -
Returning Guest 3
White Night - Chocolate Night:
Wednesday. Because of our vacation dates, we were able to
attended this event twice. It was a truly amazing production,
probably the best we've seen at a Sandals resort. It included
live music, dancing and beautifully-designed costumes. And of
course there was enough chocolate to feed the entire United
States Armed Forces!
Photo Gallery Photos rotate every 5-6 seconds. (Click any photo to stop the rotation!)
Bars: There are 11 bars on the property, but our favorite was the Polo Lounge on the Hillside. It is beautifully decorated in dark wood with an expansive bar, a piano and seating both indoors and on the huge outdoor patio. It has the look abd feel of Old Money, but our most-frequented bar was the swim-up pool bar, located near watersports. A special thanks to Capprice at our nearby pool bar. If she did not see us at the barm she would often seek us out at the pool to ask if we needed anything. One of the many bars - and another. Just walk or swim right up and enjoy your favorite drinks. The bartenders were good at taking requests, and they offer their own speciality drinks. Since we are frequent Sandals travelers, we knew our favorite drinks in advance: Mudslide, Hummingbird,BBC, Chocolate Martini, Miami Vice, Jamaican Smile, Dirty Banana, B52, Bob Marley and even a Funky Monkey!
Since we like to go to Sandals in February, we are often there for the Super Bowl. Sandals knows how to put on a party!! Lots of wide-screens, plenty of food and drinks... and everyone cheering for their team! As anyone who saw this game knows, it turned into an amazing game!
Super Bowl - Super Bowl 2 - Super Bowl 3
House keeping: Fantastic job! We
never had to ask for anything, and I think that may be a first.
There were always plenty of bath towels, shampoo, conditioner,
body wash, etc. etc. etc. The coffee pot was always clean, with
plenty of coffee and cream containers as well as nice variety of
tea bags. And we always enjoy the towel art left on the
bed to surprise each evening when we returned to our room..
Towel 1 - Towel 2 - Towel 3 - Towel 4
Nightlife Entertainment: We loved
the almost-new addition to Sandals Ochi â€¦a Speakeasy named the
Rabbit Hole. We also enjoyed the piano bar a few times, and of
course the Jamaican talent was excellent! Here's our video
(YouTube) of the Rabbit
Photo Gallery of the Rabbit Hole Speakeasy Photos rotate every 5 seconds. Click on any photo to stop rotation.
Red Lane® Spa:
We always look forward to our Couples Massage. We combined our 30 minutes with another 30 minutes and up-graded to an hour-long deep massage. Our room credit took care of the difference. While I would not choose this massage again (a little too deep for me) it was an excellent experience and we very much enjoyed our couples massage.
16 dining choices and 12 bars - and not enough time in our 9-night vacation. On our first full day we made our reservations through the concierge office. We asked for and received 2 nights at Kellys Dockside. From our past experience at both Sandals St. Lucian and Sandals Antigua, we knew one evening was not enough. The food was fantastic, Kimonos has always been a delight, and this time was no exception. Our first dining experience at Le Gourmand proved to be outstanding. Valentinos, The Reef and Neptune were all very good.
The weakest restaurant in our opinion is the Southern
Table. We would pass on this one. Of course part of
this may be that we're both southern. We live in South Carolina
and we have plenty of award-winning chefs and restaurants
specializing in southern dishes, especially seafood! I also
enjoy cooking Southern meals. In other words, we are spoiled. The
grits here tasted like Cream of Wheat, and I'll bet y'all pigs
to polecats they didn't contain any heavy cream! Or a proper
amount of cheese. The other uninspiring restaurant was the
so-called Southern food items were meh.
We did not take advantage of the breakfast in bed offer which also comes with Diamond Level, although we heard from other guests that the food was good and the service was excellent
By the time we took the Sunset Cruise, we had already met some other Sandals guests and were happy to see them board with us. It was a fairly long cruise - about 2.5 hours - but the time passed too quickly as we enjoyed ourselves. And since it is Sandals. there was lots of food and drinks throughout the cruise. The staff seemed to enjoy themselves as much as much as we did, and everyone loved seeing the beautiful coastline with a sunset before we docked.
Photo Gallery of the Sunset Cruise Photos rotate every 5 seconds. Click any photo to stop rotation.
Wally enjoyed the snorkeling each day except one when it was too cloudy. Snorkeling trips were closer to the resort shore compared to our previous Ochi vacation. They used to go out to further, including the sunken boat wreck, but now there is an additional free of about $25. to go that far. Must be a cost-cutting move and we are sorry to see that happen. (All inclusive includes snorkeling and should include the boat wreck. Somebody at Sandals must have viewed this an additional money maker! Thanks to Captain Albert (Fat Albert) as well as Wesley and Tashane - The snorkel boat - Watersports sign
Glass Bottom Boat:
Not much to see but a few small darting fish. As we came back along the coastline, other resorts were pointed out to us. The kid on the boat said "There's Sans Souci. It means without care™ because they don't care. Apparently he thought this was funny. We didn't. We have vacationed at Sans Souci and it is a beautiful resort. Spme day we would love to return. We heard practically the same, obviously rehearsed words on our previous Sandals Ochi from Sandals employees. Come on, Sandals. Don't knock your competition. This sort of thing does not improve your reputation.
We spoke a few times with the GM, Ramel Sobrino. He seemed to be everywhere at once and obviously loves his job. Here we are, outside the Riviera Beachfront tower.
Sandals Ochi was a wonderful relaxing vacation for us! We met so many delightful guests and staff members, and the overall experience was outstanding. We miss y'all already!
The rest of the 40+ more photos in a gallery
Suggestions To Sandals Ochi for improvement:
Even though we had in-room registration, it took 45 minutes to get our bags. Thatâ€™s a long time when you're anxious to get out of your winter clothes and into shorts and a t-shirt.
Riviera Beachfront Tower. It is badly showing its age and needs many updates. I said the same thing when we were there in 2013, but the only improvement since then is extra lighting in the bathroom. While I still think this level has the best views at the resort, it is far from the tech age we're living in now. If nothing else, please replace those ancient lamps by the beds and put in some outlets with USB ports as you find today in most hotel. The lamp shades are grayed and just about worn out (I would NOT have one in my house - they look like something from the Adams Family) and the inside of one of the shades was dark with ugly splotches. In 2013 we had some internet equipment, but in 2017 we have more. Each night we needed to plug in and charge: 2 Apple Watches, 2 laptops, camera batteries and changers, plus 2 iPhones. These rooms are not equipped, and in these days of fast-changing technical advancements this should have already been addressed by management. I don't likmight have missedmoight have missed.
Red LaneÂ® Spa - If Sandals really wants to claim the tital of a 5-star resort, they should not allow their spa people to come around bothering guests at the pool in order to pimp their products. People are at the pool to swim, drink, read or nap. This behavior does NOT happen at a true luxury resort. Additionally, they need to cut back on the sales presentation after a massage or treatment.
We very much missed the Cafe de Paris which we love at other Sandals. We especially missed it when we discovered there was no "real" ice cream available except soft-serve (like Dairy Queen.)
Many thanks to our travel agent,
Amy McHugh with Dream
Makers Vacation Services
She has been helping us plan our all-inclusive vacations since 2007 and we wouldn't think of booking without her help and advice. If you are considering a travel agent for your next vacation, tell her I sent you! (Why not? It's free to you!)
Questions? Contact me anytime!
The Sandals Ochi resort map HERE.
Allall-inclusive (and other) vacations are HERE